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Mistakes to avoid when separating part 2

Paula Phelan is a Family Lawyer with Specialist Accreditation in this area from the Queensland Law Society. She has been a lawyer for 24 years and is the director of Phelan Family Law, a Rockhampton legal firm specialising in Family Law only.

Mistakes to avoid when separating part two.

In our last article, we discussed common mistakes made when separating. Most of these can be avoided often making the path to a negotiated settlement a lot smoother.

Another mistake a lot of people make when separating is for one or both parties to access or redraw significant funds in a bank account. This is something you need to speak to your lawyer about beforehand, so they can give you advice and explain the risks.

Be very careful about clearing out bank accounts because there are emotional and tactical impacts of doing so. What you can do though is to make sure steps are in place to ensure that if you or the other party wish to do so, then accounts require both signatures before any major withdrawal.

It is also important not to go on a spending spree using joint funds prior to separating because doing so will bring distrust and hurt making the way forward difficult for all parties. This can cause the settlement to drag on and cost both parties more in legal fees.

Where there are a lot of high-value assets in the family home such as jewellery, artwork, or significant collectables, it is wise to take a numbered photographic inventory of each item. This is because one party might say the piece is worth significantly less than what the other person believes it is worth. If it is not catalogued it may be (accidentally or deliberately) omitted from the pool of assets and therefore can fall off the radar in terms of being able to be valued for the purpose of settlement.

Valuations of your treasures can assist you in having a good inventory of items that will prove helpful in preparation for negotiation and settlement.

There are a number of common misconceptions about property settlement outcomes in the community. Many people are told by family and friends that they should expect a certain outcome.

You should be very careful about getting ideas or expectations lodged in your mind as a result of the opinions of these “pub lawyers”. Their understanding of what your legal entitlements are is often incorrect. When receiving well-meaning advice from friends and family, it is important to take it with a huge grain of salt.

Individual factors of your matter are what will determine what you are entitled to. The age of any children you have, who has the responsibility of the children and the care arrangements all play a role in determining how the asset pool should be divided.


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